Earlier in May there was a general election that had everyone saying how unpredictable it was going to be, and in the end it provided us with the least unpredictable result - a Conservative Majority, which in its self was wholly unpredicted. Weird, eh? I mean, surely there weren't enough people willing to vote Tory, because every where I was reading and listening to was against them whole-sale. The obvious answer was that despite the world being more connected, the world's not connecting in the same way - social media is an echochamber, a self-confirming self-curated selection of what you want to hear, and when you do read or hear stuff that you disagree with, you can find the audience also disagreeing with it immediately, confirming your own thoughts. Wonderful isn't it?
The issue is that in today's world you can almost entirely cut through all the stuff you don't want to hear and focus solely on the self-confirmation bias of the media that you want to see. I don't follow The Daily Mail on Twitter, nor am I going to follow a raft of right-wing conservatives (that is, if they even used Twitter in the first place). I am not going to follow or watch things I don't want to see, am I?
The same applies to the world of television and music. In my youth I would sit in my room and do homework (or play Xbox and Dreamcast) and in the back ground I'd have the radio on, normally BBC Radio 1. From around 7pm Steve Lemaq would host The Evening Session, which introduced me to a really astonishing amount of music throughout my exam revision periods. There would be music from bands I'd never heard of, music that I didn't like, and music that I loved. The mix was pretty good, and I "suffered" this non-curated style because I liked the host and the music was something new to me, but also the fact that there was no other way. There was no MTV in my room, no YouTube, no Spotify, which meant to listen to new music I had to actually sit there and listen to new music. Pretty wild, to think about these days.
Despite all of that, there is still a place for curators (like me?). You see, with the noise of the on-demand options you do s for med a guide amongst it all, like Lemaq was for me in the past. That's a different point for a different post, but it's worth saying now.
Today I read that BBC Radio 1 is losing listeners. They are at their lowest in years, since 2003 and since the time I used to listen to Sara Cox in the mornings. Apparently, this has been the plan all along for getting rid of the "over-30s" who were polluting their demographic. That's an impressive spin, because it's not just that demographic that has been switching off - "A report last year revealed that 16- to 24-year-olds spent 15 hours a week listening to the radio compared with more than 21 hours a week a decade earlier".
This is because why the hell would anyone listen to something that wasn't "theirs" any more. There are a generation of children and now adults living in a world where On Demand entertainment is the only system they know, and the question that I have one I can answer. I don't listen to stuff I don't like. I don't watch things I don't like. I don't listen to music radio (ironically for a radio show host, I guess) and I don't sit down and just watch "whatever is on". I don't see television adverts (the last time I did was during the leader's debates on ITV and it was muted as I talked with Con and watching or read something on my phone).
That's the struggle that the BBC have. How do they provide a service of non-Demand entertainment to a shrinking audience? How can they compete with a personalised radio station, like YouTube or Spotify? The answer is they can't, which is probably why this loss of listeners probably doesn't worry them as much as it might have done.
So, is this a problem? The idea of a self-confirming collection of opinions caused a lot of people to think Scottish Independence was a shoe-in, that a hung parliament (or even a left-wing majority) was possible, and that music is all the same. I know for a fact that if you look for it you'll find music for all types of taste, and anyone saying that music is "worse" now, or was "better" then, is talking utter shit. You have to seek it out, and if you only sit in your comfort zone you won't find anything new or surprising.
But that's a self-fulfilling problem, and the reason that on the surface all of the chart meanderings are in fact identical. They are playing to the crowd that expects to hear what they actually hear day-in day-out. It's a strange multilayered issue, and one that keeps spinning. But as the mainstream homogenises into a bland estate of similarity, that just breeds a world of insane experimentation in other genres, which is very good news for my radio show.
And probably was very good news for the SNP, eh?